PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday rejected a request to form a bipartisan committee to review claims of Vietnamese border encroachment, but it has agreed to order a government lawyer to provide more specific details concerning the location of contentious border posts, the lawyer for self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday.
Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, said Wednesday that the court had refused his request to establish a new committee composed of opposition parliamentarians and officials from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
“The court denied my request because the government already has an official border committee, so they did not see the need to establish another committee,” Choung Choungy said.
The lawyer had argued that a bipartisan committee was needed to investigate border claims before a government lawsuit accusing Sam Rainsy of falsifying public documents could be allowed to proceed.
He said the current border committee faces a conflict of interest because it is mandated by the government; therefore, its opinions should not be relied upon in any legal action the government brings against his client, he said.
Choung Choungy went on to say that he was pleased with the court’s decision to require that more specific information be released about four posts along the border in Svay Rieng province.
Svay Rieng provincial court in January convicted Sam Rainsy in absentia for helping villagers uproot temporary border markers in Chantrea district, and gave him a two-year prison sentence.
The villagers had said that Vietnamese authorities planted the posts in their rice fields.
The government then filed a complaint against Sam Rainsy in February, accusing him of falsifying public documents after he released what the Sam Rainsy Party called “unprecedented evidence” that the four border posts sit well inside Cambodian territory.
Government lawyer Ky Tech said Wednesday that he welcomed the Municipal Court’s most recent ruling.
“I do not oppose the decision to order my party to provide additional documents and order the committee to have additional clarification,” Ky Tech said. “This is a correct decision of the court.”
Sam Rainsy remains self-exiled in Europe. For the time being, no court date has been set for him to respond to the current charges against him, Choung Choungy said.
An Appeal Court hearing stemming from his conviction in Svay Rieng is set for July 6, he said.
Investigating Judge Oeung Sieng could not be reached for comment Wednesday.